The future is coming to town
Flagship Infrastructure’s Blue Ridge is adding new dimensions to the concept of integrated townships. Niranjan Mudholkar visits the project site to find out how. Pics by Mexy Xavier
Many Indian cities are today reaching saturation points with their infrastructural systems crumbling.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for the existing urban centres to sustain in the face of the necessities and demands of the new age citizen. No surprises therefore that the concept of integrated township is taking strong roots in various parts of the country today.
Although it presents huge challenges of scale and scope, the concept makes great commercial sense for developers and investors as well. Moreover, it allows them to contribute to social well being. The Blue Ridge project coming up at Hinjewadi, Pune’s IT hub, is one fine example of this.
“The Blue Ridge project was conceptualised by Shrikant and Shashank Paranjape right after the 2003 Special Township Scheme was announced. Their vision had always been to be developers who touch every facet of human life and create structures and environment to house various needs starting from school to retail, to office spaces to homes. The Special Township scheme seemed to be a policy created to encapsulate this dream into a reality,” says Aditi Watve, COO, Flagship Infrastructure Pvt Ltd. Flagship is a special purpose vehicle created by Paranjape Schemes (Construction) Ltd and Indiareit Fund Advisors to develop the Blue Ridge Township.
Although the ground work was started in mid 2006, it was launched for people in October 2007. “The focus of BlueRidge has always been to create a conducive environment wherein an individual can peacefully follows his lifestyle,” Watve adds.
Blue Ridge will have an IT SEZ (covering 2.6 million sq ft), residential high-rises, villas, school and a plethora of centralised amenities like the Centralised Business Centre-conference & training rooms, food courts of approximately 40,000 sq ft, gardens, temple, swimming pools, gymnasium, crèche, restaurant, malls, multiplex, a 5-Star hotel, a sprawling Golf Club and a beautiful waterfront at the River Mula. Proximity to the Pune-Mumbai Expressway and the upcoming automobile hub of Talegaon and Chakan gives a location advantage to Blue Ridge.
Currently there are several integrated township projects happening across India. However, some of the projects have been stalled or slowed down due to the recessionary trends prevalent in the country.
Blue Ridge is certainly not one of these because work is on in full swing. “Yes, the project is running as per schedule and is likely to be completed by 2012,” informs Watve – something that was confirmed comprehensively when Construction Week visited the site. More than 2000 people are working there in two shifts to make this vision become a reality. “About 50% of the first phase of SEZ is likely to be operational by end of 2009.
The first 750 flats will be given about September 2010 and possession of another 750 flats will be handed over about June 2011. The school is expected to have its first batch of students in June 2010. While the residents will come and start staying in the project, various conveniences and amenities will be completed alongside so that no resident has to be deprived of any easy access to, for e.g. gymnasium or convenience store,” says Watve giving an update of the project status.
While the total estimated cost of this project is Rs1750 crore, about Rs150 crore have already been spent on the project. “The residential component is being funded from pre-sales and internal accruals. We have diluted the equity to IndiaREIT and we are using that money as Seed capital for infrastructure and SEZ work. Eventually we may have to raise the debt to an extent of 25-30% to achieve the financial closure. The debt levels today are substantially lower,” informs Watve.
In today’s time, it has become extremely important to have environmental commitment. The 80% open space in Blue Ridge will see extensive tree plantation. The developers have already started growing a variety of plants and trees that will refresh the air of this township.
A beautiful coconut grove near the school site is being nurtured to add to the natural charm. Blue Ridge is indeed setting many green examples. The project is not using conventional bricks. Instead, it is using building blocks that are produced at the site. The chief materials for these blocks include fly ash and crushed stones excavated while digging for foundations.
“Blue Ridge levies a lot of importance on working with the environment be it an efficient water planning and water harvesting systems or state-of-the art treatment plants and recycling. For example in the IT SEZ, we have chosen capital intensive HT equipments which consume much lesser power,” adds Watve. Incidentally, the Builders’ Association of India (Pune Centre) has awarded the Blue Ridge SEZ as the most ‘Well equipped & mechanised site’ in the well built structure competition.
Integrated townships hold a promise to a good urban future. Blue Ridge is bringing that future closer to present times.
Who’s doing what
Developed by: Flagship Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, special purpose vehicle created by Paranjape Schemes, IndiaREIT & 3i real estate fund
Project management: Advent Consultants
Structural Consultants: YS Sane Associates
Architecture, Landscaping & MEP: ECADI, Shanghai; Fairwood Consultants, Delhi; Aniruddha Vaidya Associates, Pune.
Construction contractors: Bhate & Raje, Man Infra Constructions, Unity